WBR cancels contract, citing error in bidding

The West Baton Rouge Parish Council authorized Parish President Riley “Peewee” Berthelot Thursday to rescind a $500,000 contract with an engineering firm that had submitted the winning bid for an emergency power generator.

The council had awarded Blue Stream Services a $558,550 contract for 29 natural gas-powered emergency generators to power parish drainage lift stations at its Oct. 25 meeting. The project was to be funded through the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Parish Manager Jason Manola told the council that Blue Stream Services overlooked a bid specification item that called for the generators to be able to withstand a 10 percent overload for 30 minutes.

Manola said that he was fearful FEMA might refuse to fund the project because the generators did not fully meet the project specifications.

“We thought it best to rescind the contract, reject the bids and re-advertise,” Manola said.

Council President Gary Spillman expressed concern that no Blue Stream Services representative was present at Thursday’s the meeting, but Manola said that Blue Stream was in full agreement with canceling the contract.

“Parish President Berthelot will sign an agreement canceling the contract, but Blue Stream has to sign the contract as well,” Manola said.

Manola said the project will be advertised for bidding again, but the 30-minute generator overload requirement will be removed.

“It’s unnecessary,” Manola said. “You really only need a generator to be able to withstand a power overload for about five minutes.”

Berthelot said after the meeting that re-advertising the project will probably create a more competitive bid process.

“Other companies will now know what Blue Stream’s bid was and be more competitive,” Berthelot said.

Manola said Tullier Services’ $258,000 bid to install the generators was unaffected.

Other business coming before the council included:

SALES TAX REVENUE: Parish Finance Director Melanie David told the council that more than $30.2 million was collected in parish sales tax revenue for 2012, the second-highest total in parish history.

“Part of the reason for the increase was because of industrial expansion in the parish,” David said.

Berthelot said not only was the Port of Baton Rouge doing a lot of improvement to the facility, but the parish also is growing.

“Some of this is ‘one-time’ money, but we collected about 12 percent more than we budgeted,” Berthelot said. “We’re excited about it and we try to use the extra money wisely because next year, we might not receive it. We’ve steadily gone up and been consistent.”

Berthelot said the $30,261,388 collected will be divided up among the parish, two school boards, a fire prevention district and a correctional facility.

The parish sales tax rate is 2 percent and is shared with parish municipalities according to population.

The peak year for sales tax collections in the parish came in 2008, when $33,048,776 was collected.